Queensland flood technology benefits SA fire response
By Alicia Stumm23 Apr 2012
Cutting-edge, award-winning mapping technology used in last year's Queensland flood disasters is being used to help South Australia’s 13,500 Country Fire Service (CFS) volunteers.
The CFS has been working with location intelligence specialists Esri Australia to develop a Geographic Information System (GIS) solution that uses multi-layered digital maps to provide front-line crews with detailed information as emergency incidents unfold
CFS Operations Planning Officer Nick Cundell said GIS technology can offer valuable environmental and historical data during emergencies.
“When encountering an emergency situation, it’s vital that we know exactly what’s occurring at the incident,” Mr Cundell said.
“GIS technology enables us to access previously collated fire, asset, environmental and other data through an easy-to-understand visual context of maps,” he said.
“This information can be analysed to derive greater meaning – and our planning team pass on that information to our people on the ground so they can make informed judgements about how to best respond to a situation.
“This ultimately results in improving the use of our available resources.
“CFS agency-partner the Department of Environment and Natural Resources uses the same GIS technology, which has proved particularly valuable during several regional fires, including the Woolundunga fire in the Flinders Ranges in January.”
Esri Australia's GIS technology was also used to develop Brisbane’s Flood Map, which provided a real-time picture of water levels, hazards and emergency infrastructure for local authorities and the public and was honoured with several accolades, including a merit award at last year's iAwards as one of Australia's top information and communication technology innovations.
Esri Australia South Australian Business Manager David Trengove said, as well as assisting the CFS during the fire danger season, GIS technology also supported fire prevention strategies – such as the planning of fire breaks and the locations of safer precincts for local communities.
“GIS technology acts as a central point of truth for all CFS data and supports aircraft fleet management, bushfire prevention, community education, equipment maintenance and even training regimes,” Mr Trengove said.
Mr Trengove said the visual nature of GIS technology is highly suitable to the work done by the CFS.
“The technology gives emergency response personnel the ability to understand where an emergency is in relation to the location and the proximity of people, assets and environmental variables is crucial,” Mr Trengove said.
“The technology’s intuitive user interface also allows anyone to use it, even if they don’t have an in-depth understanding of GIS.
“What is vital is that the information accessed by CFS personnel is easily accessible, up-to-date and useful – because in high pressure situations, the accuracy and timeliness of data is paramount.”